Las Vegas is a dangerous place for pedestrians

Las Vegas isn’t the worst place in the nation to be if you’re a pedestrian, but it has room for improvement, according to a recent report.

The report, released by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition, ranked Las Vegas 13th in the nation among large metro areas for likelihood of pedestrians being killed in a traffic accident. It created the rankings based on the Pedestrian Danger Index, which measures factors including the share of local commuters who walk to work and the most recent five years of data on pedestrian fatalities.

The share of commuters who walk to work is used because it’s the best available measure of how many people are likely to be out on foot, according to the report.

The Las Vegas metro area had a PDI of 102.67, with 1.8 percent of the population walking to work every day and 1.85 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people annually (2008-2012). Between 2003 and 2012, there were 413 traffic-related pedestrian deaths in Las Vegas. In 2013, there were 70 deaths, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation, and the numbers grow year over year.

Nationally, the PDI is 52.2 and the average annual pedestrian fatality rate was 1.56 per 100,000 people.

The report also ranked metro areas by percentage of traffic deaths that were pedestrians. Here, Las Vegas was ninth out of the 51 areas studied:

  • New York (32.5%)
  • Los Angeles (28.3%)
  • San Francisco (26.8%)
  • San Jose (25.8%)
  • Miami (23%)
  • San Diego (22.2%)
  • Tampa (21.9%)
  • Detroit (21.1%)
  • Las Vegas (20.2%)
  • Baltimore (20.1%)

The report noted that older pedestrians suffer disproportionately from traffic deaths: Those age 65 and older make up only 12.6 percent of the nation’s total population, but account for nearly 21 percent of total pedestrian fatalities.

Between 2003 and 2010, Nevada had the sixth-highest rate of fatalities among pedestrians age 65 and older, with 3.74 deaths annually per 100,000 people:

  • Hawaii (6.81 deaths per 100,000 people)
  • California (5.03)
  • New York (4.94)
  • D.C. (4.47)
  • Florida (3.92)
  • Nevada (3.74)
  • New Jersey (3.74)
  • Utah (3.51)
  • Idaho (3.37)
  • Montana (3.33)
  • National average: 3.19

The report emphasized street design, including reducing traffic lanes and adding medians, as a means of reducing the pedestrian fatality rate. Countdown signals, midblock crossings and narrow travel lanes were also mentioned.

NDOT encourages drivers and pedestrians to remember the law — especially since most Nevada traffic deaths happen outside of legal crosswalks. Drivers should remember that crosswalks exist at every intersection, whether there are markings or not, and pedestrians should use the sidewalk unless there’s not one available.

Contact Stephanie Grimes at sgrimes@reviewjournal.com. Find her on Twitter: @stephgrimes